Dear American: Retire Your MD-80s!

American is in the process of renewing their fleet, which I give them a lot of credit for. It has been awesome to see them transform from an airline with one of the oldest fleets in the US to one of the most modern fleets.

Their 777-300ERs are gorgeous.

American-Business-Class

And even their new domestic A319s, A321s, and 737s are perfectly nice.

American-737-Economy-Class

American’s fleet modernization has largely centered around them retiring their MD-80s, most of which are older than I am. The planes are disgusting — they smell terrible, they’re loud, they have no in-flight entertainment/110v adapters, and the interiors just feel nasty.

American-Economy

American has slowed down their MD-80 retirement, so we’re still seeing more of these than we were supposed to. Why? Because oil prices are down, so it’s still economical for them to fly these gas guzzlers, given that they’re all paid off, as far as I know. And clearly passenger experience isn’t actually that important.

American recently changed their operations at DFW so that the same plane types depart from the same terminals, in an attempt to streamline operations. The DFW plane assignment system is as follows:

  • 737s, 757s, and A321s will depart from the A Concourse
  • A319s and MD-80s will depart from the C Concourse
  • International flights will mostly depart from the D Concourse
  • The lower C Concourse (gates C2-15) will act as overflow gates

In other words, with the exception of international flights, all MD-80s depart from the “A Concourse.” I’m flying my first MD-80 in a while today. Before boarding even started, I was at the gate and listening to how the flight next to us had a mechanical problem which caused a significant delay.

American-MD80

I was sort of appalled by the way the gate agent announced the delay. He didn’t bother saying “sorry for any inconvenience” or “we appreciate your patience and we’ll keep you updated if anything changes,” but instead just matter of factly said “there’s a mechanical problem with the plane and we will give you a further update in 45 minutes.”

Then as boarding for our flight was supposed to start, we were informed we also had a mechanical problem with our plane. There was something wrong with the windshield. 15 minutes later we were informed that the plane couldn’t be fixed, and they’d try to find us a new one.

I headed to the Admirals Club, and after checking in I went up to the service desk and gave the friendly agent my boarding pass:

Me: “Any chance you’ll make an announcement in the club when they find a replacement plane for this flight?”
Admirals Club agent: “Sure. Along with all the other flights which have mechanical problems. I just wish there were one day without these mechanical problems.”
Me: “I can’t even imagine how tough your job must have gotten since they’re flying all the MD-80s out of this concourse. Might be time to relocate to another concourse.”
Admirals Club agent: “We were just talking about it. It’s a mess. You have no clue.”

I guess what sort of put this into perspective is that I’ve long been an American loyalist, thanks in large part to their superior loyalty program. I’ve been a lot more forgiving of their poor operational performance (compared to Delta) than I usually would be, because I sort of unconditionally loved the airline.

Ford is flying with me and asked “so why do you love American again?” Which is a perfectly valid question in a terminal with as many flights delayed as on-time, and all for reasons within the airline’s control. All we want to do is get on our 25+ year old plane and get to our destination.

I guess big picture I’m coming to terms with finally being able to look at American more objectively now that their frequent flyer program will no longer be a point of differentiation. With the changes to their loyalty program, they need to be a good airline on their own merit. And these MD-80s certainly aren’t contributing to that.

Here’s to hoping they find a replacement plane soon!

Comments

  1. The MD-80s offer a higher percentage of premium seats than any of the planes which are replacing them.
    While I agree actual AC outlets would be nice, id rather have a seat in the front than a newer plane.
    And if I’m stuck in coach, the exit row seats on an md 80 are some of the best economy seats of any airline.

  2. This is a major reason I never understood people’s love of American. I’ve never lived in an American hub so it never made sense for me to be loyal anyway, but the old planes I’ve consistently been stuck on with American are a huge detractor in terms of my opinion of the airline. Delta generally has better style than United and American (and the best operational performance), and actually a big reason I appreciate United is how much information you can get from their app / website and the efficiency of mobile self-service options. United’s award booking process, flight changes for free within 24 hours of departure, etc. all are far better than American. Given that they don’t excel on any of these fronts and with the fact that US Airways was even farther behind beforehand (lackluster on board experience, no app and among the least friendly agents I’ve interacted with) I don’t get the appeal with the now downgraded loyalty program…

  3. Old planes don’t have to be operationally and experientially deficient. Delta has done a superb job of keeping their 757 and 767 fleets fresh and on time- in fact they’ve bragged about how they’re outperforming new craft simply by allocating the extra funds towards parts and spare planes, rather than new plane purchasing.

    AA’s use and maintenance of their MD80/S80’s is more in line with their general attitude toward plane maintenance between redesign/replacements. Their 767 fleet is generally equally shameful compared to that of Delta’s.

    This coming from someone who doesn’t even particularly enjoy flying Delta.

  4. Once again you lose credibility Lucky. The MD-83s left at this point are ex-TW and were the very last build, manufactured in 1999. Some are newer than the 737-823s on the property. Didn’t Ford criticize the 738s saying they felt older than him? With all due respect you seem very out of touch and unfamiliar with AA’s fleet and it’s age.

  5. @Adam – Interesting, and interesting that fare class W is the same they use for partner (AF, VS, DJ) premium economy.

  6. @Josh G – Maybe a bit harsh? Lucky did acknowledge that AA is on its way to having one of the newest fleets in the sky…plus on the whole, the vast majority of 738’s are far, far newer than the MD-80s out there.

  7. Preach it, Ben! When flying to the west coast I can do a double connection through CLT and PHX involving at least one commuter flight – or do a single connection in Dallas on MD-80’s. Guess which one I pick? The Centurion Club is nice, but I much prefer actually getting to my destination on time. Mechanicals are a way of life on those POS MD-80’s that AA still has. And the previous poster makes a great point, Delta has them in their fleet, too and there is no comparison.

  8. AA’s planes used to be reliable, only 1 mechanical delay in more than a decade of flying AA. AA’s operations have gone downhill the past 18 months and their planes are breaking down more frequently. Not just the MD-80s, but also their 738s (I was on a brand new 738 that had a mechanical problem) and 777s. I wish Doug Parker would focus on improving AA’s operations instead of making “enhancements” we will like such as cutting the frequent flyer program.

  9. Dear AA,

    KEEP THE MD80’s and trash the crap Airbus fleet. Maddawg yo! Engine out in the md80 is better than an engine out on the 737,320.

    Plus that weird smell thru the vents can’t be beat and quiet cabin up front.

  10. Across the board in searches of mine, AA Award availability to and from secondary airports drops off significantly when MD80 routes get switched over to RJs.

  11. Appears to be a typo: “with the exception of international flights, all MD-80s depart from the ‘A Concourse.'” But directly above it says they fly out of C.

  12. Apart from the maintenance issue (which, as others point out, is AA’s fault—not the fleet age), the MD80 is *great* for AA elites. The MD80 has a bigger percentage of F seats, and in the few cases where you’re not upgraded the MD80’s MCE is one of the best. Nice wide seats, comfortable non-slim backs, good legroom, and the engines in the back means it’s in fact whisper quiet in front.

    (Admittedly, if you’re in the back, it’s a different story…)

    If you read FlyerTalk, you’ll see lots of AA veterans sad that the MD80s are being retired. Many of them are being subbed with A319s, which have a terrible F upgrade rate and coach in the back is in fact super-tight.

    I for one will be sad to see these birds go. They’re already gone on most of the routes I fly AA on.

  13. Mechanical delays can be really maddening, and old planes tend to have problems more often. For myself, I like the MD’s because the seats are wider than 757’s. The .8 inch difference may not sound like much, but my hip bones like the extra clearance.

  14. I like the MD-80s, because I appreciate the 2×3 seating in economy. Also it tends to be relatively quiet toward the front of the plane, thanks to the rear-mounted engines. In theory the passenger experience doesn’t have to be terrible — you can put new seats on an old plane (that may be less true in terms of reliability/maintenance). It just seems like AA probably isn’t investing in this fleet because these aircraft are scheduled for retirement.

  15. @Dave

    I am not being harsh, Lucky is wrong about this issue. He can have whatever opinion he wants but it’s not supported by the facts. Delta per his admission runs a great operation, they have significantly more MD-88/90/95 and other “older” aircraft. He’s very knowledgable shot in-flight service and FFPs but not fleets, operations, labor relations, etc. I call it like I see it.

  16. “A319s and MD-80s will depart from the C Concourse”

    “[…] all MD-80s depart from the “A Concourse.”

    So Concourse A or C?

  17. Can we stop repeatedly stating that the 777-300ER’s are “gorgeous”? They are just normal. Most airlines use a 777-300 ER (or otherwise!) when they downgrade a service. And the reverse herringbone is NOT the most luxirous business class (even on a 777, let alone on more modern planes) – even the Qatar 2x2x2 is far more spacious (yes, less private) and a better business seat. Its this breathless (mis) coronation of certain dated products, even if sometimes accompanied by the “IMO”, that questions the overall objectivity of the blog. Also, can we please not use the reverse herringbone picture of that AA 777 cabin one more time? Please? Oh, and I am an Exec Plat with over 250K mikes (flown) this year on AA and OW – so I am not exactly a AA basher – just a bit more realistic, thats all.

  18. Josh G is correct, Delta operates the most aircraft of this subtype (keep in mind the Boeing 717, originally called the MD-95, is of the same lineage). Hawaiian also operates a ton of Boeing 717s. The fundamental aircraft type is long-established and *very* reliable, and apart from the poorer fuel consumption metrics and the loudness in the back it’s a very solid plane. The issue here is one of maintenance and cleanliness.

  19. And the 767s! Flew business LHR to ORD which was sub-BA’s old premium economy. For all the BA-bashing, AA are flying some dreadful planes with terrible seats and service. Should be calling out AA more.

  20. @John G – Do they? From what I’m seeing, as of 2010, Delta had about 140 planes in the MD-80/90 family, while American had close to 380 as of June 2015. As for other “older aircraft,” Lucky was focusing on the MD-80s here.

  21. @BigDaddyJ – Sorry, just saw your post. But the 717’s would be newer, wouldn’t they? The first ones entered service in ’99. I guess what I’m saying is they’re certainly part of the same aircraft family, but (probably?) not as old as the MD-80s.

  22. I used to complain about the Mad Dogs (which is what I mostly get out of MCI) but then I figured out that as long as I’m not next to the engines these old planes are more comfortable than many of the newer planes and certainly better than the RJ’s. Being a non-hub AA flyer it does scare me when I see the McDonald Douglas build date on the door but as long as they would do the upkeep it matters little to me. Most of these on are short flights where I don’t need IFE or power anyway. Just make sure you don’t drink the water or the coffee made with the water on these old birds.

  23. Since 2010 DL has made significant second hand purchases of MD-90s from a slew of carriers (including JAL) and the 88 AirTran 717s (MD-95s). AA has taken deliver of about 175 737-800s since April 2009 which have replaced S80s, but not quite on a 1:1 ratio. AA’s fleet of S80s has been drawn down significantly and they’re mostly gone from all major coastal markets, mainly still operate short haul domestic routes from DFW/ORD. The LAX-AUS/STL/SJD flying transitioned to 738/319 several months ago which was S80 flying. S80s have been gone from MIA since April 2005. Again you both really need to educate you’re before jumping to conclusions and attaching people who refute what you say.

  24. “American has slowed down their MD-80 retirement, so we’re still seeing more of these than we were supposed to. Why? Because oil prices are down, so it’s still economical for them to fly these gas guzzlers, given that they’re all paid off, as far as I know.”

    I’m not sure who provided that information but it is incorrect. At the end of this month there should be around 93 remaining, at the end of 2017 there should be 30 something, and middle of 2017 we will see the entire fleet retired. They are and have been retiring five a month and simply cant retire them any faster.
    Trust me, they are NOT keeping them for fuel savings. The company has stated many times they want them gone ASAP for multiple reasons, least of which is the passenger experience, and Doug Parker really dislikes them.

  25. As someone who flies about once per month in economy, I really enjoy the 2-seat side of the MD-80 especially when I luck out and get the row to myself! Though I did have a trip ruined due to a mechanical issue on one…

  26. Really? The 2+3 configuration in Y allows for a lot of flexibility in seating, much better than 3+3 and less number of middle seats. Ah, and I am so sad that Ford did not like this plane… Can you keep it professional??

  27. I love the MDs. I almost always travel with my wife, and I love the 2-3 seating. We grab a pair of extra legroom seats on the port side and no worries/strategies about who will sit in the middle seat if we don’t get upgraded. Much more comfortable than on a 737 or an airbus. I am hating to see them go.

  28. @ Josh G — Interesting, because the replacement MD-80 they found was from 1987… that’s a long shot from 1999.

  29. I agreed with deepak. No US carrier has a cabin in any class on any plane which is “gorgeous”. They’re all generic beige/grey/navy with essentially off-the-shelf versions of standard J seats. Delta’s adding a bit of flair with the textured seats and red accents in Delta One, but even that’s pretty minimal compared to what foreign carriers have done. Check out at J on a China Airlines 777, F on a BA 789, or even (can’t believe I’m saying this) J on an AC 787 if you want to see what attractive and tasteful cabins look like.

  30. Give me an S80 any day over an AA-configured 319! Good grief. There’s more personal space in coach on the S80 than in any of the eight uncomfortable F 319 seats. Many suggest SeatGuru should have every 319 seat designated as red, with maybe some of the F seats as yellow. Perhaps since I’m used to flying US (RIP), I don’t need IFE (don’t we all provide our own?) as well as power (ditto).

  31. MD 80 retires!
    Maybe AA can fast forward and dump old Airbuses.
    “No Smoking” is a hint as to how old the fleet is.
    And no entertainment on flights from PHL to PHX or DFW.

  32. I’ve been in DFW for 11 years and I used to be 50/50 Southwest/AA and then AA really pissed me off and I took a break for a while. After the fleet renewal began a few years ago and my travel increased, I returned to being nearly 100% AA. The airline is really much better than just 4-5 years ago. I love the new A321s!

    I’m torn between which I dislike more: An MD-80 or an older 737-800 on AA. I often fly DFW-TPA on Saturday mornings and that flight is often very empty and actually decent on an MD-80. Some of these older 737-800s are pretty dingy too. Plus I appreciate the better First to Economy ratio on the MD-80s.

  33. I like MD80’s. No slimline seats, 2 x 3 seating in coach means fewer middle seats, exit rows have excellent legroom etc. AA could improve their preventive maintenance if they cared.

  34. Sorry but this is not how everyone feels about this aircraft. IFE is over rated and I for one hate it. The giant box under the seats for the IFE take up space that I want for my feet. Like others have said, fewer F seats in the new planes and the MD-80 is plenty quiet up front. I will really miss them when they are gone because I love the 2-3 seating along with the great leg room they have. No they are not like a shiny new penny but they do get the job done and do it well, I would say better that the shiny new planes with the IFE at every seat.

    Your article is flawed because AA is dumping the MD-80’s quickly. They have fewer than 99 in service now.

  35. NO, NO, NO! Stop! Please! Once again the “smaller” cities get ignored or forgotten while bloggers run after the latest and newest and most-est.
    I live in Albuquerque and necessarily fly out of here. Albuquerque is 800,000 people and the largest city in a state somewhere in size between the UK and France.
    Now, however from New Mexico we are forced to go to a “hub” PHX, DEN, SLC, DFW even to get to a “major hub”: LAX, ATL, IAH.
    The MD-80 is the best, most pleasant plane to which we can get access.
    Otherwise our choice is usually an Embraer. I like them; they’re fun, they’re bouncy, but not all the time and not before two other connections to an international flight, or 2.5 hrs to Chicago, forpetessake. Of course, on some few routes we can jam on to no longer SW for fiesta boarding, They have their hubs, too.
    To quote and affirm the comment before me: “I like MD80’s. No slimline seats, 2 x 3 seating in coach means fewer middle seats, exit rows have excellent legroom etc. AA could improve their preventive maintenance if they cared.”
    My sentiments exactly.
    Back off, please, and quit playing fastest, newest, jazziest. I remember nicest, most decent, and most civilized. Somewhere ‘human’ not hustle fit on that list, too.

  36. 1. “no inflight entertainment.” I thought the MD-80s had streaming video to your mobile device?
    2. Buy a cheap USB/12v adaptor, plug it in the big power hole and problem solved.
    3. 2×3 seating, I love it. A much smaller percentage of middle seats than most other mainline aircraft.
    4. Huge percentage of premium cabin seats.

  37. Removing the current maintenance issues (and to earlier points made – AA could fix that, look at Delta’s old fleet that seems to stay running) I will miss this plane dearly. As someone who actually flies at high time for business fliers knowing I can at least get on that 2 side of the 2-3 is everything to me. Doing DFW-ORD for a year I would never get an upgrade (especially booking a week out) but 99% of the time I could get a MCE seat on the 2 side. Give me my couple of drinks and a cheese tray and I am happy as a clam looking out the window. IFE is over rated on domestic flights – give me WiFi and I can entertain myself. Don’t get me wrong, if AA is going to keep the small fleet they have still around they need to have more of them visit Tulsa to get regular maintenance, but, us road warriors are going to miss this bird – a lot.

  38. “American’s fleet modernization has largely centered around them retiring their MD-80s, most of which are older than I am. The planes are disgusting — they smell terrible, they’re loud, they have no in-flight entertainment/11ov adapters, and the interiors just feel nasty.”
    Sounds a lot like you, you have no idea what those of us AA MM’s like or dislike as your Rosey interpretation is based on a paltry amount of Total flying experience..
    The Mad Dogs are much more civil in seating arrangements than you have experience with…the new 738 I just flew now has less butt room in exit row than ever…
    If you would dare to fly in coach once in a while you would have more ‘expertise’ in your critique, and sound more ‘pliable’ ……lol

  39. Thank you for justifying why I’m Diamond on Delta and not Exec Platinum on American. Ever since American pulled out of St. Louis, their idea of service has gone downhill.

    I remember when TWA purchased the new MD-80’s (and 717s which Delta now flies). That beautiful New Plane smell. Comfortable seats. And TWA employees who actually cared about your business (this was after the evils of Icahn, obviously!). American comes in with all sorts of promises, and the only benefit was that… oh wait.. there was none, other than allowing me to fly other airlines since American didn’t fly where I wanted to go in a timely fashion.

    That and my Exec Platinum friends are jealous of Delta status. Better systemwide upgrades (now), the same point earning system (they all stink, btw), and I get access to the Sky Club. When my coworkers fly Delta, they all think that the people are more friendly, and seem to care more about you flying their airline than American. I flew American recently through Chicago for a few flights… it was depressing. The same MD-80s that I fly and like on Delta felt on AA like they haven’t taken care of the plane since the TWA days. They didn’t have power in “Main Cabin Extra”, no better service, and no free adult beverages like Delta has in Comfort +.

    So why would anyone who flys enough for elite status willingly fly American?

  40. Unless the plane or the ticket is changed at the last minute, you know in advance what aircraft you’ll be flying on so often times you can vote with your wallet. Also, many people in US have a choice of airlines. If enough people end up avoiding the MD80s they will disappear quickly. Economy 101, right?

    I also dislike this type of aircraft and, when possible, I avoid it.

  41. Yes I agree. Please AA retire these old planes. Though I recently flew American to Las Vegas on a new A321, and It was one of the loudest airplanes I have flown on in a long time. It rattled on take-off like it was going to fall apart. I’ve flown on many MD 80s and unless I sat in the back near the engines, I didn’t think the A321 was any quieter.

  42. Lucky, where is the “Bottom line” of this article ??
    Is everything okay with you today ? It’s the trademark of your blog, without it this post feels somewhat unLucky…

  43. As someone who maybe accrues 200k mile a year and a few hundred dollars travel reimbursement, I think a lot of this complaining about old planes isnt really relatable to people like me and the majority of the amatuer churners. As long as the flight is under 5hrs I dont care what type of plane it is, I think people of my ilk would sacrifice a newer nice plane for economy award space of an old plane if that is the trade-off.

  44. Not to take this off topic but it’s relevant…

    A couple people have pointed out the tight seating on the A319s in Y. It’s true that it’s tighter than most and AA is aware of the problem but it was not a concious decision. When the seating configuration was decided and the type of seat was ordered that seat was not designed for IFE. AA then made the decision to incorporate IFE in all new order aircraft. The seat company had to rework the seat for the extra components which resulted in a thicker seat back. Management, even upper management, knows it is an issue, espically for the longer markets it’s deployed on. DFW-BOG, UIO, MIA northern Brazil, and some transcons. The delima is those markets would not be viable with a different aircraft and operating a sub fleet for just those markets is not viable. At this point there is no solution.

  45. As countless people have said in the comments here, 2×3 seating in coach beats the pants off 3×3 seating in coach.

    The only issue with an MD-80 is when it goes mechanical, or if you’re unlucky enough to be seated in the far back of coach next to one engines.

    As far as IFE, the onboard wifi is a perfectly acceptable option to be entertained.

    If AA can keep the MD-80/83’s among those that have the least maintenance issues, I would be happy to see them in service for years to come.

  46. @ Lucky: Josh G is correct. Please don’t confuse a crap airline with the fleet. There”s nothing wrong with the MD-80s as DL prove, it’s all about AA who failed to renovawtre the interiors and fails to do preventative maintenance, and fails its customers by keeping such old INTERIORS and badly Mai gained aircrats in its fleet longer.

    You need to be better at facts.

  47. FYI – didn’t know where to put this but AA F award availability from DFW-NRT is WIDE OPEN for most of next year. 4 days a week with 2 seats in F.

  48. How does any AA mega flyer NOT have a 12V auto/air adapter? Rookie mistake.

    I think I paid $12 for mine. Before that, I had an iGo, which were quite popular at the time.

    Only a fool would claim that an A319 is more comfortable than an MD-80.

  49. ” IFE is over rated and I for one hate it. The giant box under the seats for the IFE take up space that I want for my feet.”

    You’re not the only one. I’m also tired of the bright screens everywhere when I want to sleep. What happened to reading a book?

  50. All but one of my 19 domestic flights scheduled in Jan are on Mad Dogs, and I’m in my favorite seat in the fleet for each: 3F. We all have our own needs and opinions, of course; that said, I couldn’t be happier with my schedule – quiet, comfortable cabin, great “old school” F window seat with enough space to get to the aisle without disturbing the pax in the aisle seat – I don’t see what the problem is with the pax experience side (yes, in Jan it’s all F, but this month and in Feb I’m in 21B a few times, also a great economy seat). Most routes that I can find that the MD-80 flies aren’t long enough to require a great investment in IFE, and also aren’t long enough to drain most batteries on tablets and Kindles, so I don’t really know what the problem is there (even on my MSY-DFW-ORD-DEN days, all MD-80s, with no more than 64 minute connections each, I’m able to charge up enough between flights). As many have stated, I much prefer the F seats and the Y seats on the AB side on the MD-80 to the seats on the newer aircraft being received.

  51. Yeah, some of them have seen better days, but I’d take the MD over the RJ from the perspective of back of the bus comfort. And you need to be a contortionist to get into a window seat on the 319.

  52. Actually I like flying the MD-80s up in business class – upgrade, of course. Since the engines are at the very tail of the plane it’s very quiet upfront. I try not to think how old the planes are…
    What DOES bother me though is American neglecting to upgrade their fleet going to Japan.
    Older plane and no Internet…

  53. The mad dogs have much more comfortable first class seat padding than any other aircraft. I’ll take the MD80 over the A319 anyday.

  54. The 2+3 seating is a higher priority for me than power ports. We always travel as a couple and having a third person can often be just awkward, even if all are behaving well. For the same reason I prefer B767 on international routes. I really dislike B737’s and B757’s and B777’s. I am aware your website is aimed for those who usually sit up front but I can’t. Flying has gotten so expensive, I can barely travel once a year in economy. Even 10 years ago, I would be taking 2-5 trips a year. Obviously leisure flying only.

  55. So pages and pages of reading to say you had a delay?

    And some of your info is incorrect. AA is NOT delaying the retirement. The Mad dogs are recognized as being quieter in front compared to other planes. And u are inconsistent with the terminal at DFW where all MD80 operations are concentrated.

  56. Love the MD-80’s. KEEP THEM! The plane has to be over 80% filled before anyone has to suffer with a middle seat. That’s a passenger experience that I’d trade for outlet power and entertainment any day!

  57. I won’t get into the debate about the particulars of the MD-80s. Personally, I have always liked Delta’s MD-88s; I would opt for one of those to an ultra-uncomfortable B757-200. My comment was that there was an article in a recent Airways magazine – not sure which month by October or November probably (Alitalia was on the cover) – about the retirement of AA Super80 fleet. Worth checking out for AvGeeks. It made me nostagalic for some of my earliest flights in the late 90s into DFW.

  58. I’ve never flown on an MD80 that smells bad and most of the plane is actually extremely quiet unless you’re in the back couple rows (I’ve flown on over 20 of them). If you’re not in the back 3 rows, it’s actually much quieter than any plane that has wing-mounted engines because all of the exhaust is behind you as the MD80 has engines mounted in the far rear of the fuselage. I flew on a new AA 737 recently just aft the engines and it was extremely loud during takeoff – these new planes are very noisy due to the wing-mounting of the engines if you’re sitting near or behind the wings. Just flew on an MD-80 2 days ago and could hardly tell we were taking off because it was so quiet.

    Now, since you probably fly in the front of the plane in your cush first or business class sofas forward the engines on any aircraft-type (unlike the other 90% of us in the back of the bus) you never hear the engines on any aircraft anyway so none of this applies to you. But on behalf of the layman, I would consider the MD-80 a great aircraft for every-day people. You should call your blog “for the elite flyers in the front of the plane”. Does it matter to you that some of us in the back appreciate less noise? A little consideration on our end would be appreciated. Thanks.

  59. I don’t mind the lack of IFE…I bring my own. (How EVER did they get by in years past without glowing screens built into every seat back?) 😉 Rear engined, no cutesy slim-line Euro seating, 5 across configuration? Works for me! And as others have said, AA is to blame for lack of maintenance on these.

  60. I fly for business and personal travel monthly on several airlines but more frequently on American and Delta. Although I used to like American the best because of their large fleet of quiet and comfortable MD-80s, their service, and their hub locations, now Delta which has always been a very good airline is actually better. American has new management which for some reason is trying to change everything good about the airline but instead is only succeeding in making things worse. In the last year or two I’ve had a better chance of getting a MD-80 for a domestic flight on Delta while American has started switching some routes over to the noisy and uncomfortable 737. I’ve also been on the American Airbus twice and it was even worse than the 737. I realize as others have said that the MD-80 burn more fuel making them more expensive to operate but even as a short 5’6″ woman I would pay a few extra dollars for my ticket just to avoid traveling squished in like a sardine on a 737 or Airbus. I really feel sorry for the taller male passengers onboard those planes that must be so incredibly uncomfortable for a couple hours at a time. I really like the 2 seat side of the MD-80 and much of the time I actually get it. I’ve only rarely been stuck with a middle seat over on the right hand side of the aisle. I appreciate the generous amount of leg room in coach, the great seats with real cushions, and the under seat storage space available for my small carry on tote bag which I can then easily access during the flight. If the person in front of me reclines their seat on a MD-80 I might not even notice. If the passenger in front of me tries that on a 737 or Airbus I immediately want to KILL THEM!!! (just kidding of course 🙂 I can easily get out of my seat to use the bathroom without disrupting the entire airplane instead of getting trapped and having to just “hold it” when in the many wrong seats on a 737 or Airbus. The MD-80 is so amazingly quiet and smooth that I don’t even wear my noise cancelling headphones except for the last couple of rows in the very back by the engine. It’s in a class by itself and no other airplane I’ve ridden on even comes close. The 737 and Airbus fishtail, rattle, and vibrate from the wing area all the way to the back of the cabin and I always have to wear my headphones to reduce the noise level. Why pay for first class when you can be just as comfortable in the coach cabin of a MD-80??? When American flew the MD-80s on the premium LGA to ORD flights I loved flying the route but now with the 737 I avoid American at all costs. I really don’t like the little tiny regional jets either as I feel much safer on a big plane but I think the regional jets in some cases are actually more comfortable than the 737 or Airbus. If true that American is really foolish enough to get rid of their most comfortable domestic airplane then I predict that Delta will be getting many former American airlines passengers soon. I really question if the person that wrote this article actually has any domestic flying experience at all! Upset about the lack of a cheap seatback entertainment system for a short 1 to 3 hour flight? You really can’t be serious!

  61. any chance off turning the 20 MD-80 into exe flights for Asian markets/hubs? retiring them is total waste of flight resources. i am trying to put together a purchase plan to revive them. any interested parties?

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